‘Deathwish’ through ‘Deathwish 4′: The Mother Of All Crackdowns

Paul Kersey, as played by the late Charles Bronson, has to be the most cursed person on the planet.  The Deathwish films aren’t supernatural, but the way violence seems drawn to Kersey makes it as logical an explanation as any (other than it being a movie, that is).  If you had to deal with Samara from “The Ring” you have seven days to either pawn the tape off on someone else or solve Samara’s mystery, while in the case of Paul Kersey, all he seems to get is a bus ride to his next murder spree.

I get the feeling that if he were headed to Amish country he would be attacked by roving gangs of Amish thugs trying to go Rumspringa on his ass (which is an interesting idea for a movie).

Deathwish

In the original “Death Wish” Paul Kersey’s family is attacked by hoodlums, who kill his wife and rape his daughter.  As a result he becomes a one-man hit squad, tracking down the killers and dishing out justice when the police can’t (which is pretty often).  The original film, based upon a novel by Brian Garfield, was a harrowing experience because everything unfolded in a realistic fashion.  It also doesn’t hurt that it took place in New York City, which is a character in and of itself.

Despite being extremely effective, Kersey is a reluctant vigilante.  You’re shown his progression, as he thwarts a potential mugger with a sock full of quarters till the city becomes his shooting gallery.

Deathwish is probably one of Bronson’s most memorable roles, and it’s easy to see why.  It’s important to mention that Kersey is really hit hard by some horrific events, and it shows.  Unfortunately, in the case of the sequels, this element is lost.

In other words, in the sequels he’s essentially the Terminator, minus the brawn and accent.  He kills almost as if the producers have no other ideas, as opposed to it being a pressing need on the part of Paul Kersey.

A clever writer could have done something interesting with the idea, maybe introducing the idea of Kersey being shell-shocked (essentially what we call PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, today).

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‘Devil’s Due’ Review

Devil's Due poster II

“”Devil’s Due” is slightly more ambitious that most found-footage movies, though suffers from problems built into the format.”

Having seen Matt Bettinelli-Olpin‘s and Tyler Gillett‘s “Devil’s Due,” about a newly married couple destined to give birth to the Antichrist, it’s obvious that the found-footage trend, ushered in by the 1999 film “The Blair Witch Project” and made mainstream with the Paranormal Activity films, needs a break so that it can recover the sense of freshness and spontaneity that made such films so intriguing in the first place.

Which will not happen any time soon because these movies are so cheap to produce.

For instance, “Devil’s Due” cost $7 million to make, and earned almost $33 million dollars, which is a really tidy profit.

The premise of the movie while by no means unique, is at least interesting, though like other films in this genre it makes little in the way of sense because there are too many situations where someone would not be walking around with a camera.

Most found-footage movies at least stick to the cameras at hand, though “Devil Due” expands to using footage from literally any camera in an area, which the characters shouldn’t have any access to, as storytelling devices.  It makes no sense at all and kind of takes you out of the movie if you give it any thought.

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Captain America Uniform From ‘The Avenger: Age Of Ultron’

Captain America (Age of UltronHere’s a picture from “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” of Captain America (Chris Evans) in his new costume.  It looks like a combination of the suit he wore in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” combined with the one he wore in his most recent adventure, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

I think it looks great, particularly the way the wings are integrated into the design of his helmet (which looks a lot like the leather helmets pilots wore in World War II).WWII Pilot's Helmet

You can find some more shots here, which is perhaps a better use of your time than following the legal travails of Bryan Singer, who like Icarus flying too close to the sun, may lose it all if the allegations of Michael F. Egan III are proven true.

And even if they’re not, they may have cost him the next film in the X-Men franchise because people may have a problem going to see a multi-million dollar production helmed by a alleged pedophile.

 

‘Maps To The Stars’ International Sales Trailer

As I understand it, this isn’t the actual trailer for David Cronenberg’s upcoming “Map To the Stars,” but one cut for the purpose of international sales.  I stumbled upon it–with more than a little help from “The Wrap”–though it makes me wonder why Cronenberg continues to work with Robert Patterson.  If their last film together, “Cosmopolis” was any indicator, we shouldn’t be at all surprised if he delivers a somewhat wooden performance.

Then again, I get the feeling that–as far as Cosmopolis goes–that that was exactly the performance that Cronenberg wanted from him, which is at least reason for some optimism as regards Patterson’s acting chops.

 

 

‘Wish I Were Here,’ Trailer 1

You ever watch a trailer and get the feeling that the director is probably trying to be too artsy?  Well, that’s there feeling that I get from watching “Wish I Were Here,” the latest film from Zach Braff, while also fighting the urge to type, “Wish You Were Here,” which is an awesome song by Pink Floyd, from the album of the same name.

It wasn’t too long ago that Zach Braff made news by partially financing his project through Kickstarter.  At the time some objected to him doing so because Braff is not exactly short of funds, he blazed a trail on Kickstarter that others, such as Spike Lee and Rob Thomas (“Veronica Mars”), would follow to finance their projects.

Donald Faison is also part of the cast, whom I respond fondly from “Scrubs.”

Postmortem: ‘The Happening’

  • Part 1: It’s All About The Benjamins

I imagine that M. Night Shyamalan, coming off the blockbuster success of 1999′s “The Sixth Sense,” thought that he literally ruled the world.  That movie, on a $40 million budget, earned almost $673 million dollars.

His followup,  2000′s “Unbreakable,” cost $75 million to produce, almost doubled the cost of his first film and earned just over $248 million dollars.  While not as wildly successful as “The Sixth Sense,” it was still quite profitable.

His third film, “Signs” was cheaper to produce than “Unbreakable,” at $72 million, but earned over $408 million dollars.

His forth film, 2004′s “The Village” cost $60 million to produce, and earned almost $257 million dollars, but cracks had begun to appear in his armor.  “The Village,” while profitable, had the lowest rating on Rottentomatoes.com rating of any of his prior films, at 43 percent.

Most critics believe that it was little more than an extended Twilight Zone episode, though that’s not quite fair to “The Twilight Zone,” which was significantly better.

His next film was his first flop.  “Lady in the Water,” which cost $70 million to produce, earned only $72 million worldwide.  The studio that released all his films prior to this one, Disney, declined to do so for ‘Water.’   Shyamalan then took the movie to Warner Bros., who in hindsight probably wished he hadn’t because–while it earned back its production costs–wasn’t profitable.

His next film, 2008′s “The Happening” had a remarkably low Rottentomatoes score of 17 percent, which one might understandably equate with box-office disaster, but not in this particular case because  it earned over $163 million dollars.

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‘Bad Johnson’ Review

Bad Johnson movie poster

“I can’t deny that your dick can sell dog shit to a freshly mown lawn.”

                                                                                                          —Josh Nelson

Nothing about Huck Botko‘s “Bad Johnson” feels real–though to be fair it’s is about a man who’s penis decides that life could be better without him, so pretty much the entire “reality” thing is thrown out the window.  Rich Johnson (Cam Gigandet) plays a womanizing man-whore who–though losing his dick–becomes a better person.

Though let’s be honest: There are probably better ways to do so.

And if that weren’t bad enough, his anatomy has somehow become personified in the person of Rick’s Penis (Nick Thune)–Yep.  That’s his name according to IMDB and the film’s credits–a walking, talking personification of libido.

You cannot make this stuff up.

Such an outlandish scenario could be excused if it were really funny (for some reason I imagine a pre-freebasing Richard Pryor as Rich’s Penis.  That would be gold).  But it’s not.  Sure, there are moments when things are amusing, but for a movie about a man who’s penis goes on walkabout, it’s kind of dull.

Though prior to his dick’s attempt to steal the spotlight, the movie’s about Rich, who’s claim to fame was that he would screw virtually anything on two legs, as long as it was female because Rich doesn’t have eyes for the guys.

Though he somehow believes that his penis is the source of his problems–as if it had a mind and a will of its own–and before you know it, it does.

There’s no particular reason given for such a thing to happen.  No bombardment by cosmic rays, no bite from a radioactive dildo; Rich just wishes that his penis were gone, and “poof,” it is.

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‘Expendables 3′ Trailer

The ‘Expendables’ films are somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me in the sense that they remind me of an American muscle car, like the Corvette Stingray.  It might not be state of the art in certain ways, such as engine technology, but it’s surprising the problems that copious amounts of horsepower can solve.

This film is chock full of actors that some might consider relics, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Harrison Ford, yet if the earlier films in the series are any indicator, it will probably manage to hum along pretty well too.

Mel Gibson is in this as well, playing a villain.  Which makes me wonder:  Is there some sort of typecasting going on here?  Every since his very public meltdown, it seems that he more often than not plays a villain.  2012′s “Get The Gringo?”  Criminal.  2013′s “Machete Kills?”  Megalomanicial villain.  2014′s “Expendables 3?”  Seemingly a mega-megalomanical villain.

I don’t know who Gibson’s agent is, but if I were he, I would really begin to start to question their judgement.

Then again, he seemed to be playing a decent sort in Jodie Foster’s 2011 film, “The Beaver,” and we saw how well that worked.

Wesley Snipes is thrown into the mix too, which makes me think he’s perhaps one of the luckiest men on Earth, because most people don’t tend to bounce back so quickly from prison sentences.

‘Phantasm: Ravager’ Trailer

Phantasm: Ravager posterDon Coscarelli’s Phantasm series is very interesting, though not necessarily for good reasons.

The original film that started it all is pretty amazing, but the more sequels that Coscarelli did, the more apparent it became that that he was running out of ideas.

Which is why the latest film, “Phantasm: Ravager” is so interesting.  This time around it’s being helmed not by Coscarelli, but David Hartman, who worked with him on “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “John Dies At The End.”

While I assume that Don Coscarelli is writing, it will be a good thing for someone new to direct.

Besides, if Coscarelli not directing, he’d be free to handle other projects (hopefully Marvel’s Doctor Strange).

Space: 1999 Vs. Space: 1999

Space1999The debate over whether the Year One or Two of Space: 1999 is one that will probably rank relatively low among the questions that plague mankind by their elusiveness.

Unless you happen to be a person that prefers one or the other, in which case the answer is fairly obvious and the question somewhat pointless.

Space: 1999 is the story of Moonbase Alpha, which due to an explosion of its nuclear waste dumps–a hungry Earth, wanting the benefits of nuclear power and minimal risk stored waste products from its production there–is torn from the embrace of Earth’s gravitational field and sent hurling through the cosmos.

The first year of the Alphans exodus was a somber affair, as if in space no one could see you smile.  The show was quite well-written, but somewhat joyless.  And while I understood that there probably isn’t all that much to be happy about being trapped on a runaway moon, there were moments that I got the feeling that these people were either in shock or chronically depressed.

This must have been troubling to the creator and executive producer of the series, Gerry Anderson.  I suspect that he was proud of his show, which he worked created with his former wife, Sylvia.  It was his second series to use people of flesh and blood as opposed to plastic and wire, but I imagine that he was vexed by how stagnant the show felt.

I don’t know what was going through his mind when Sir Lew Grade, head of ITC Entertainment, asked for another season, but his actions were telling.

ITC Logo

  • FRED CLEANS HOUSE

Anderson hired Fred Freiberger, who prior worked on the third and last year of Gene Roddenberry‘s “Star Trek,” to produce.  He came in and cleaned house, changing virtually everything that came before.  Barry Grey’s somewhat contemplative and sombre opening theme was replaced with one that had more immediacy and a tangible sense of adventure by Derek Wadsworth.

Barry Gray’s Space:1999 Year One Opening

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